My first memory of abuse was when I was 5. From that point in my timeline things get fuzzy, but I remember some major events. I experienced a significant amount of childhood trauma before the age of 10. I witnessed domestic violence, I watched caregivers inject themselves with heroine and sell drugs, and I was a victim of sexual and physical assault. The abuse ended when I was 13, when my mother relocated our family. By the time I made my way to university, at the age of 18, my PTSD was in full swing. I couldn't get out of bed at times. I cried and I didn't know why I was crying. The way people smelled or certain sounds could render me unable to walk. Sudden loud noises triggered panic attacks. I experienced hand tremors and body pain that had no medical explanation. I was cycling through an eating disorder in an attempt to control what was happening to my mind and body. I visited the doctor often feeling sick and was incredibly preoccupied with a fear of having some kind of undiagnosed ailment. While in college I witnessed my brother be removed from life support.
Anytime I experienced a high level of stress my first thoughts were of suicide. I felt completely unable to cope despite all of my resources. I still experience some of these symptoms. The trauma I experienced during these formative years left me with mental scars that impact my wellbeing today. It wasn't until I found a therapist that specialized in trauma work that I had a name for what I was experiencing. It was a relief to know there was a reason for what I was feeling and failing to manage; I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I work with a therapist on a weekly basis and I see a psychiatrist every month. I will be sifting through the ruin the traumas I experienced created for the rest of my life. I've established what my *triggers are and I've created a *safety plan and a *safe place in order to maintain a sense of wellbeing.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a real mental health condition that can, sometimes, be debilitating. PTSD occurs after an individual has witnessed or been a victim of traumatic events. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder interferes with daily living and can lead to significant impairment if the disorder is not effectively managed.
Individuals with PTSD are at risk for
A person with PTSD is not faking their anxiety or depression. Persons suffering from PTSD experience the traumatic stress throughout their body often on a daily basis. You should also know that people with PTSD often struggle to manage close relationships, can have significant health issues, and experience difficulty managing their mood. Sometimes PTSD symptoms can lead to a misdiagnosis of ADD/ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, or even Borderline Personality Disorder. The misdiagnosis is a result of long-term poor management and regulation of the disorder.
Below is an info graphic that I made based on my experience with PTSD. For more information on race-based trauma and self care check out this post.
*Trigger- An experience that causes someone to recall a previous traumaticmemory, although the trigger itself need not be frightening or traumatic and can be indirectly or superficially reminiscent an earlier traumatic incident. Triggers can be subtle and difficult to anticipate, and can sometimes exacerbate PTSD. A trauma trigger may also be referred to as a trauma stimulus or a trauma stressor. (wikipedia)
*Safety plan- Example of a safety plan HERE
*Safe place- A place that is easy to access that creates a sense of calm in the individual suffering from PTSD. These places can often be dim relaxing rooms with certain items that assist the individual in decompression and calming.